Students left in the dark over cash which could be spent on you.
You could lose out on funding as College cash previously ear-marked for students is under threat. The £137,000, currently gathering dust in a untouched bank account, was due to be spent on the King’s membership fee to the University of London Union (ULU).
The withdrawal from the union, which is no longer profitable, has left King’s bosses sitting on thousands of pounds which could be diverted to projects that do not benefit students for whom it was originally intended.
This year, King’s stopped paying the fee. The cash now sits in a College account gathering dust, while King’s students continue to live and study with simple issues that could be addressed by financial help. These issues might include WiFi quality, welfare provision or the need for more study space.
Colleges have ceased paying into the London-wide union due to its expected closure next year. Earlier this year, the federal University of London, of which King’s is a founding member, voted to close its union, pulling its funding. As a result, ULU is being run on reserves of around £700,000.
King’s is currently in negotiations with KCLSU to determine what to do with the massive membership fee. The College told Roar!: “Planning ahead for the closure of ULU from 2014-15, the College and KCLSU are in ongoing discussions about how the annual King’s ULU membership fee of £137,000 could be reallocated to support student-facing activities. The College has committed to redistributing all of this money for the benefit of students at King’s.”
We are supporting KCLSU’s student officers in their fight – because it is a fight – for this money. Against the backdrop of higher education cuts and the rise in fees that two thirds of current King’s undergraduates will have to deal with, the ULU cash campaign is ever more urgent.
Roar! believes King’s students are entitled to the full amount and should not settle for a penny less. This year’s student officer team has plans to use the money for you. KCLSU President, Sebastiaan Debrouwere, said: “The annual funding the College made available to ULU was designed to help unions run by students for students.
“It is a personal priority for the Student Officer team to make sure this funding continues to be spent on student-led activity through the work of their own local union, KCLSU. Ensuring the future of the ULU funding has been high on the agenda for our Officer team since we started in the beginning of August.
“We are in discussions with the College, and I have every confidence that we will swiftly and effectively come to an agreement that will benefit King’s students and that will further empower KCLSU to deliver value in those areas that are important for our students and our community. We will of course also be consulting with students on how best to spend the money.”
The £137,000 could be spent in a number of ways, all of which Roar! believes would improve the quality of the student experience, some of which are at relatively little expense. There are two clear programmes that could help improve the welfare provision available across all campuses.
The first is for KCLSU to re-affiliate with Nightline. Nightline offers support services to students in distress. Two years ago, KCLSU dropped its affiliation citing a lack of financing. The cost of this is 10 pence per King’s student per year. There would be little excuse for not re-affiliating once the College has handed over the cash.
Secondly, the Peer Support Scheme run at Guy’s Campus. The project involved trained students offering support to other students during their time in need. The project is ideal, but suffering from a lack of financing. Roar! believes KCLSU should be supporting this project and looking into expanding it College-wide. The cost of this project is currently £1,200 per year.
By returning the money to student-led organisations, the College is taking action mutually beneficial to everyone. By funding projects like those mentioned above, student satisfaction at King’s can only improve. We all know one of the reasons King’s is held back in the national league tables is poor student satisfaction.
Recently times have been tough for KCLSU. By providing the cash owed to KCLSU, not only would facilities improve, but it should help project the voice of King’s students London-wide. Roar! hopes this article sparks the College into action and sees the £137,000 currently withdrawn from students returned.
Wherever you are on the political spectrum, the ULU Cash Campaign is a mission all King’s students can unite behind. What should the money be spent on? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Ben Jackson – Editor of Roar!
I’d pour the money into means-tested bursaries for students from poorer backgrounds because I think the cost of living in London is a large barrier to students coming to King’s. KCLSU could also pay for the Roar! Editor’s job to be a full-time sabbatical post. Please?
Anthony Shaw – KCLSU Vice President Representation And Communication
I would upgrade Tutu’s into a student space with student media facilities, performance space and social space. I would also cover the new NHS levy for international students.
Durr-e Maknoon Tariq – Roar! Science Editor
Provision of more laboratory experience for students within science schools as it is essential if they want to pursue a career in research. More library books because there are still not enough for everyone. No one should have to buy their own books just because the library hasn’t got enough, as university books are quite expensive to buy.
Steph Fairbairn – Roar! Design Editor
More space for student media. It’s getting kind of crowded in the Roar! office, and we’re one of the few that actually have an office! A central sports facility for all. I believe joining societies and clubs is one of the best ways to integrate yourself into university life. What stopped me from joining a sports club was the fact that I would have to spend £12 a week to travel to and from the venues, on top of subscription fees. King’s should have a sports base like so many other universities do.
Jessy Howard – Assistant Station Manager of KingsTV
More money given to societies, as this would be the most direct way of investing the sum back into the student body. More money spent on resources for disabled students – it’s ridiculous how little there is at King’s. Spend money on more teaching staff, especially in the arts! Bring seminar sizes down in order for everyone to take part.
Michael Di Benedetto – Roar! Politics Editor
Welfare issues should be a priority for the College. I’d like to see more money put into those areas. Mental health services as well as the King’s doctors services need more money in the time of austerity. We should be protecting these services rather than leaving the money to gather dust.
You can follow Ben Jackson on Twitter at @bjacksonuk